Motorsports Recap And Behind The Scenes Access

Two Days In Topeka–It’s The Recliner Report!




Stop #8–Menards Heartland Nationals, Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, Kansas

The Monday after Sunday’s rainout!


Yep, it was Monday following the Sunday rain that probably caused most of the racers to feel like Noah was going to show up at any moment and say, “Hey, anyone need a ride?” Needless to say, the day before was slightly sloppy.


But now? Everything was brand-new. The birds were out and chillin’, the sun was peeking through, and all the racers that were still in contention were jacked and ready to roll.


Remember back in Part 1 where we discussed the cows who were super-stoked just knowing that Monday would bring the return of peace, quiet, and some epic nap-time? Ummm…they quickly learned that they were gonna have to wait another day to catch up on their beauty sleep. Seems the NHRA was messing with their bovine bedtimes. Oh well, it had been a moooving experience for everyone involved, and thanks to the Fox 1 Sports coverage of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Tour, we were ready to watch what looked to be some pretty dang exciting racing.


So, with more fun in the forecast, the staffers loaded the guacamole bowl, cracked open a half dozen monster-sized bags of chips, and refilled the Twinkie dispenser. This group was ready to grub.


And, they had another reason to be excited. Overnight, they had received their first Recliner Report comments! Yeah, at last count, they had at least 4,000!


Just kiddin’. Actually, the number wasn’t quite that high, but with all the whooping and hollering that came from the guys huddled around the laptop, you would’ve thought it was that many. Anyway, the comments involved the sweet little conversation that took place Sunday between Erica Enders and Tanner Gray. Folks were asking, “Where can I find the actual convo that took place between the two with no bleeps or bloops provided by Fox 1 censors to make sure our ears weren’t violated?” Great question! Well, the guys looked on every website possible to locate the R-rated version, but reported no luck. Apparently folks are just going to have to use their imaginations. Hey, this is just a hunch, but we’re willing to bet they’re the kind of words that wouldn’t be used in front of Grandma. Now, if Grandma is a sailor, maybe, but…well, you get the idea.


So, here’s how the hootenanny went down!


DROPPING THE HAMMER–Clay Millican opened the festivities with the quickest time of the weekend, a blazing 3.676 that propelled him into the finals and the possibility of winning his 2nd-ever Wally. One reason that car has so much get-up-and-go? Just take a glance at who is sitting behind the steering wheel. All you had to do was watch his top end interview with Amanda Busick following the victory to see that Clay oozes positive vibes and energy. Dude probably drinks Red Bulls to calm down…love the positivity of that guy!


RUNNING A CLOSE SECOND–Millican’s level of enthusiasm can only be matched by Terry McMillen, who leapt into his 3rd final of the season with a win over Steve Torrence. T-Mac’s victory guaranteed a showdown in which either of the finalists would walk away with his 2nd-ever Wally, and give the guy credit for thanking everyone except himself for his success, instead choosing to remember those who helped him achieve his racing goals.


BLOOM DOES DOUBLE-DUTY– “Stat Guy” Lewis Bloom never fails to exceed his nickname. Dude comes up with facts, stats, and historical info that can cause an encyclopedia to comment, “Really? Seriously? How’d you know that?” This guy is GOOD. But, Monday’s show proved that he’s not a one-trick pony, as he turned up on the final day as the pit area/starting line reporter, and he brought his “A” game to the festivities, speaking with the likes of John Force, Clay Millican, Brian Corradi, and David Grubnic. From the quiet of the TV booth to the earthshaking, ground-quaking, teeth-rattling area they call the starting line, Lewis has the talent to handle any spot he lands. Epic skills.


MAY THE REACTION TIME BE WITH YOU–Yep, the much-anticipated battle between Erica Enders and Tanner Gray took place in the second round of Pro Stock, and according to Dave Rieff, Erica “…dropped the hammer” on the 19-year-old with a 6.55, the lowest elapsed time of the race. It also never hurts to start the festivities with an .005 reaction time. Man, that’s some fast foot action…


WIN-WIN SITUATION–It’s a fact: in side-by-side drag racing, you have a winner, and…the person who doesn’t win. Calling the 2nd place finisher a “loser”, well, that’s just not cool. Man, getting to any NHRA final takes enough energy to light up Deroit, but unfortunately, Mello Yello can’t hand out two Wallys in one race. Only one competitor gets to kiss the hardware. However, in the case of the Funny Car final, John Force Racing was bringing that little jewel back to the casa regardless of the outcome, as teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight went toe-to-toe to determine the champion. After the nitro cleared, Courtney was seen holding her 3rd Wally of the season. Here’s betting the post-race party was epic!


GIMME A HUG, BRO!  Following Clay Millican’s win over Terry McMillen in the Top Fuel Final, the guys were seen hugging it out at the top end, and no, they weren’t doing it for the cameras. Man, it’s cool to see competitors show so much respect to each other in sports. So many times we hear of snarky tweets and disses on Instagram or Facebook between opponents in other sports, so watching two ultra-competitive guys in such a high-stakes, big-dollar business is downright epic.


HEY, IT WASN’T ME–Anyone here know Danny Nelson? If you were watching Millican’s top-end interview with Amanda Busick while holding his 2nd-ever Wally, you met the guy. Nelson, who stepped into the interview following an invite from the champ, was credited by Clay for having such a huge impact on the Top Fuel pilot’s Sportsman career. And, that was just the tip of the appreciation iceberg, as Millican gave all the glory to a long list of folks, one that included everyone…except himself. Dude is totally selfless, and never forgets who helped him get to where he is today. Total class move.


WHERE’S THE MICROSCOPE? Erica Ender’s semi-final win over Greg Anderson could’ve been closer at the finish line…said no one ever. As the still shot of the pair crossing in front of the camera appeared on the screen, Dave Rieff said it best when he stated, “Thank goodness for electronics.” The margin of victory? Forty-four ten-thousandths of a second! Anyone want to name something you can accomplish in that amount of time? Well, there’s…or maybe…then, how about…aw, crud, we give up.


ICE, ICE, BABY–One or more of the following is what most of the staffers were expecting to see and hear after Deric Kramer exited his ride following his first-ever win in the Pro Stock category: backflips, jumps for joy, screams of delight, whooping, hollering…maybe even a cartwheel or Mello Yello soda showering everyone and everything within a 15-yard radius. No dice. This fella is one cool cat, simply thanking his dad for a career that began when Deric was eight years old. No insanity, just a talented driver who is obviously nails under pressure. The staffers? They weren’t disappointed. Impressed is a much better word. Dude’s got a heckuva future.


So, Kansas is now in the rearview mirror, and in two weeks, the bright lights of Chicago await at the JEGS Route 66 Nationals! Till then, keep reclining!


Oh yeah, and that weird noise you’re hearing? It’s naptime for the bovines. Those dudes are pooped!




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